Racing Louisville FC Profile
Following their formation in late 2019, this is a team that will be looking to make a big splash in the National Women's Soccer League.
Racing Louisville FC was founded in October 2019 and are a new team in the National Women's Soccer League for the 2021 season.
They are owned by the same group that owns the Louisville City FC men's team in the USL Championship. John Neace, the founder of Neace Ventures in Louisville, is chairman of both teams.
The team and the NWSL initially filed trademark applications for Proof Louisville FC, referencing the bourbon whiskey for which the city is well-known.
After mixed fan reaction, they switched gears and went with Racing Louisville FC, which was unveiled on July 8, 2020.
The Racing name plays off Louisville's horse racing heritage, with venues like Churchill Downs, famous for hosting the Kentucky Derby.
They also unveiled a lavender circular crest with a four-pointed fleur-de-lis in the center.
Manager Christy Holly
On August 12, 2020, Racing Louisville unveiled Christy Holly as their first manager.
A native of Derry, Northern Ireland, Holly played at John Moores University in Liverpool, England, before playing professionally for Limavady United in the Irish Premier League.
He worked as an assistant manager at Georgian Court University in New Jersey before being hired by Sky Blue FC. Holly was an assistant for the Sky Blue FC Reserves before moving up to Sky Blue FC in 2013.
After three seasons as an assistant manager, Holly took over the NWSL side in 2016. In nearly two full seasons in charge of Sky Blue, he won 14 games, lost 17 and drew seven.
After leaving Sky Blue in August 2017, he worked for US Soccer as an assistant to the U-23 and U-17 teams.
Holly was an opposition analyst for the US women's national team before and during the 2019 Women's World Cup, helping the team capture the title.
Building the roster
On October 26, 2020, Racing made their first-ever move as they acquired Japanese striker Yuki Nagasato and American forward Savannah McCaskill from Chicago Red Stars.
In exchange, they gave the Red Stars full roster protection in the expansion draft. Louisville added an extra international slot in 2021 and 2022 and the Red Stars' first-round pick in the 2021 NWSL draft.
Since 2001, Nagasato has played professionally in Japan, Germany, England, Australia and the United States.
Nagasato scored 13 goals in three seasons with Chicago and was loaned to Hayabusa Eleven. In 132 international games for Japan between 2004 and 2016, she scored 58 times and was part of the 2011 World Cup-winning side.
McCaskill played college soccer in South Carolina with 40 goals scored in 91 games. In the NWSL, she has played for Sky Blue FC and Chicago, scoring five goals in 54 games.
McCaskill also had a loan stint with Sydney FC, where she scored five times in 13 games. She has played six times for the USWNT.
Louisville also added Cheyna Matthews on the re-entry draft on November 2. Matthews played as a forward for the Washington Spirit from 2016 to 2019 before sitting out the 2020 season.
She also missed the 2018 season to give birth to a son. She has 11 goals in 55 NWSL games. Matthews played college soccer at Vanderbilt University and Florida State University, scoring 46 goals in 86 games.
She represented Jamaica at the 2019 Women's World Cup and has eight international goals.
The Expansion Draft
The NWSL Expansion Draft took place on November 12. With the first pick, Racing selected defender Addisyn Merrick from North Carolina Courage.
Merrick was a rookie in 2020, starting eight of the Courage's nine games. She played her college soccer at the University of Kansas.
Next, they selected defender Julia Ashley from the OL Reign. Ashley played professionally in Sweden and Australia before joining the Reign last season. She played college soccer at North Carolina and has represented the US at U-20 and U-23 level.
With the third pick, Racing took midfielder Jennifer Cudjoe from Sky Blue FC. Cudjoe made her NWSL debut in 2020 after playing in the USL League Two and WPSL. She represented Ghana at U-17 and U-20 level.
Forward CeCe Kizer was the fourth pick for Racing. The forward played for the Houston Dash over the last two seasons after playing college soccer at Ole Miss. She has represented the USWNT at U-23 level.
Goalie Katie Lund was drafted fifth from the Washington Spirit. Lund didn't play as a rookie in 2020 after signing with the Spirit out of the University of Arkansas.
Midfielder Alanna Kennedy, an Australian international, was drafted sixth from the Orlando Pride. Kennedy has played in the NWSL since 2016 after six seasons of professional soccer in Australia.
For the 2020 season, she was loaned to Tottenham Hotspur in England. She has scored seven goals in 87 international appearances.
Midfielder Lauren Milliet was selected from North Carolina Courage with the seventh pick. She played two games for the Courage in 2019 and four in 2020.
Defender Kaleigh Riehl was taken from Sky Blue FC with the eighth pick. Riehl was the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft and she played in one game last season. Riehl is on loan with Paris FC for the 2020/21 season.
She played college soccer at Penn State University and has represented the USWNT at U-18, U-20 and U-23 level.
With the ninth pick, Racing selected NWSL right winger Caitlin Foord from Orlando. Foord has been in the NWSL off and on since 2013 while also playing professionally in her native Australia and in England for Arsenal.
She is playing the 2020/21 season with Arsenal and has scored 20 international goals for Australia in 81 career games.
Forward Katie McClure was taken from the Washington Spirit with the 10th pick. McClure was the 23rd overall pick of the 2020 Draft and she played in six games last season for the Spirit. McClure played her college soccer at the University of Kansas.
Defender Erin Simon was the 11th pick from Houston. Simon played for Sky Blue FC from 2016 to 2018 before spending two seasons with West Ham United in England.
She played collegiately at Syracuse University and has played for the USWNT at U-23 level.
Veteran goalkeeper Michelle Betos was the 12th pick for Racing Louisville. Last year she played her third season with the OL Reign after also playing for the Portland Thorns in the NWSL.
Bretos has played professionally in Cyprus, Norway and Australia, and she was the 2015 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year with Portland.
With their final two picks in the Expansion Draft, Racing picked up the NWSL rights to US women's national team stars Tobin Heath and Christen Press.
Heath scored 15 goals for Portland between 2013 and 2020 before signing with Manchester United on September 9, 2020. She has scored 33 international goals in 169 games for the USWNT.
Press also signed with Manchester United in September after scoring 10 goals for Utah Royals in 25 games.
She previously played for the Chicago Red Stars, scoring 35 times in 60 games from 2014 to 2017. Press has 58 international goals in 138 USWNT games.
Both Press and Heath are committed to Manchester United through the 2020/21 FA Women's Super League season.
They are also expected to play for the US women's national team at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. If either player returns to the US to play professionally, Racing will have their rights.
Racing Louisville added another player on December 2 as they signed Swedish midfielder Freja Olofsson to a two-year deal.
Olofsson has never played in the NWSL but spent the last five seasons playing professionally in Sweden and Norway.
Last year she was at KIF Orebro, returning from an ACL injury to start 18 games for the Swedish outfit. Olofsson has represented Sweden at U-17 and U-23 level.
The next steps
Racing Louisville will have the chance to add to their roster in 2021 before they play their first game.
In January, they will have the first pick in each of the four rounds of the NWSL College Draft.
They also have the Chicago Red Stars' first-round pick, which is the fifth selection. Undrafted players can then be signed as well.
The NWSL announced that the 2021 season would begin with a Challenge Cup, much like the one in the summer of 2020.
The 24-match regular season is expected to start in mid-May 2021. The playoffs will be expanded from four to six teams for the first time in league history.
The Lynn Family Stadium
Racing Louisville will play at the Lynn Family Stadium, a soccer-specific stadium that holds 11,700 fans.
Lynn Family Stadium opened on July 12, 2020, at a cost of $65million after two years of construction. The stadium is in the Butchertown neighborhood of Louisville, just east of downtown.
Racing Louisville share the stadium with men's soccer team Louisville City FC of the USL Championship. The stadium is named after Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn, who purchased a 10-year naming rights deal with the ownership group.
Dr. Lynn is an optometrist who owns franchises of Visionworks in the Louisville area. The University of Louisville soccer stadium is also named after the Lynns.